CHESTER, PA. 5/22/2015 – The National Championship of Women’s Lacrosse will feature a match up of former conference rivals. The North Carolina Tar Heels advanced with a 16 – 7 win over the Duke Blue Devils. The Maryland Terrapins will play in the title game as they defeated the Orange of Syracuse 10 – 8 at PPL Park in Chester, PA. These schools were members of the ACC and played each other numerous times during the season. However, Maryland is now a member of the Big Ten Conference. Despite playing in different leagues the Terps and the Tar Heels did play each other in February in College Park where Maryland took a 13 – 11 decision. The semifinal wraps are found below.
National Semifinal Game 1
North Carolina 16 Duke 7
The Tar Heels broke open a close game in the second half by scoring six consecutive goals to take a 13 – 5 lead and closed out the Blue Devils to win by a 16 – 7 count. Aly Messinger led UNC with 3 goals and 2 assists for a game-high 5 points, and has 59 points on the season. Marie McCool, Lindsay Scoot, Sydney Holman, and Maggie Bill each scored twice while five other Carolina players tallied one goal apiece.
“It was a total team effort,” said North Carolina Coach Jenny Levy. “Our team was anchored by our defense. All of our defenders made plays. On offense a unit showed a complete team game we play, and showed how much fun it can be.”
It was a close game throughout the first half with each team having no more than a one goal lead until the last two plus minutes of the opening stanza when Messinger and Brittney Coppa scored back to back to give UNC a 7 – 4 lead at intermission. Coppa scored with an up and under back hand shot to beat Duke goal keeper Kelsey Duryea with just under 7 seconds before intermission.
“To get that goal with 7 seconds remaining was awesome,” Messinger said about the Coppa goal. “It pumped us up as a team. It brought us the fire that we needed in the second half. It was a huge play.”
In the second half Duke got the first score from Taylor Trimble before the 6 – 0 North Carolina run that secured the victory and a spot in the title game. The Tar Heels outscored the Blue Devils 9 – 3 in the latter half.
It was a good defensive effort by the Tar Heels to limit the Blue Devils to 7 goals. However, they key factor was that UNC controlled the number of ball possessions. Carolina had a 15 – 10 edge in draw controls and a 16 – 11 advantage in ground balls. Tar Heel defender Courtney Waite snared a game-high 4 grounders.
“We didn’t have the ball enough, and didn’t take care of it on the offensive side” said Duke Coach Kerstin Kimel. “In the first half we did a good job of taking things away. In the second half we had to change our defense. We had to do something different and disrupt them. It’s a risk, but you have to be willing to take those risks and get back into the game. You can only play defense so much defense to where there is going to be some cracks against a really good team.”
Two goal keepers played for North Carolina, Caylee Waters and Megan Ward, who turned in a total of 7 saves. Dureya made 10 saves for Duke.
For the Tar Heels Sam McGee, Sammy Jo Tracy, Stephanie Lobb, Courtney Waite, and Coppa found the back of the net for a goal each.
“Our team is very well balanced,” Levy said. “We are good with whoever scores. It’s not one player we rely on and that keeps your offense in rhythm. That’s the way we are this year.”
Katie Trees, Brigid Smith, and Taylor Trimble had two goals apiece while Chelsea Landon had the other goal.
“We are really excited to play on Sunday,” Messinger said.
National Semifinal Game 2
Maryland 10 Syracuse 8 – A goal by Syracuse attack Kayla Treanor with 7:18 to play cut the deficit to two goals. Maryland won the ensuing draw control and kept possession of the ball for the remainder of the game to earn to 10- 8 victory.
“We were trying to get a goal,” said Maryland Coach Cathy Reese. “We wanted to take the right opportunity. We wanted to make sure that the shots we were looking for were going to be wide open, not things we would turnover. At the five minute mark we needed to possess the ball unless the opportunity presented itself.”
The Terrapins did not score, but more importantly, they did not give Syracuse the chance to score.
Maryland started quickly taking a 3 – 0 lead within the first six minutes. However, Syracuse would answer back. Later in the half the Orange went on a 3 goal run to take a 5 – 4 lead on a goal by Taylor Gait at the 5:24 mark. The top seeded Terrapins have not had to make comebacks during the tournament run, but showed they could by scoring three times in the final four and a half minutes to take a 7 – 5 into the locker room. Zoe Stuckenberg, Kelly McPartland, and Taylor Cummings found the back of the net in that span. Maryland took 22 shots in the half, but were hitting posts, and were not able to solve Orange goal keeper Kelsey Richardson who made 6 of her 7 saves in the initial half of play. The Terrapins knew what they had to do.
“I think at that point it’s just we re-set,” said Cummings. “At that point we’re down 5-4, our focus is the next draw. After the draw, it was putting the ball in the back of the net and making it 5-5. Once we got to 5-5, we knew it was 0-0 essentially, and we just pushed off from there and put our foot on the pedal.”
Syracuse got the first goal of the second half, but Maryland answered with another three-goal run to take a 10 – 6 lead with 19:09 on the clock. Treanor got the next two goals of the game that set up the ending. The Orange never got the chance to get the ball and ended the game down two players due to yellow cards.
Cummings lead the Terrapins with a game-high 6 points on 2 goals, 4 assists, and had 5 draw controls. Attack Kristen Lamon scored a team-best 3 goals while Brooke Griffin scored twice and was credited with an assist. Erin Collins scored a goal. Goal Keeper Alex Fitzpatrick made her 4 saves in the second half. The Terps had a 29 – 16 edge in shots.
“I just think that they took their time a little bit more in the second half,” said Richardson. “They didn’t have a lot of shots. I think our defensive players came up with a lot of turnovers in the second half where they weren’t getting the ball to the goal. I think that they were definitely taking their time a little bit more and finding the open play in the second half.”
Treanor scored 5 points on 3 goals and 2 assists to lead the Orange. Gait and midfielder Halle Majorana each scored two goals. Erica Bodt scored the other goal.
Draw Controls were a key factor in the contest as Maryland had a 14 – 6 advantage. In addition to Cummings, Collins won 4 draws and Casey Pepperman got 3 for Maryland. Treanor lead Syracuse with 3. The Terrapins won that battle and kept possession of the ball.
“We came up a little bit short on the draw controls, and I think that was the biggest difference in the game,” said Syracuse Coach Gary Gait.
Maryland has gone to the last seven final fours. They last won the title in 2014 defeating Syracuse 14 – 12. They get a chance for another crown against North Carolina.
“We are really excited to have the chance to compete for a national championship on Sunday night,” Reese said. “Proud of our team’s effort today and looking forward to the opportunity that awaits us.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian